Three weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission fined Donald J. Payne $750 for the operation of FRSD/Free Radio San Diego, the local "pirate" station that has broadcast sporadically on 96.9 FM since October 2002.

In a "Forfeiture Order" released June 13, the FCC said it was fining Payne for hosting the station's transmitter in the garage of his house at 1937 33rd Street, San Diego. The FCC said it used "mobile direction-finding techniques" to locate the transmissions from the residence in April, October, and November of last year. Payne told FCC agents that he had no involvement with the broadcasts, except for leasing his garage to the operators for $100 a month.

Payne was originally fined $10,000 on December 28 but argued that he could not pay that amount. This month, the FCC lowered the fine to $750. The FCC said Payne claimed to have turned off the power to FRSD in December and that he was evicting the FRSD crew. But, according to the FCC, the transmissions originated from the garage for eight months and Payne could have pulled the plug "much earlier."

If the FCC has been able to identify "Bob Ugly" or any other FRSD operatives, they haven't acted on it. On its website (www.pirate969.org), the crew writes: "Free Radio San Diego has temporarily suspended broadcasting on 96.9 FM. Our programming will continue to be available online.... If you own property and would like to be OUR HERO by leasing a small amount of space to us, we'd love to hear from you.... WE WILL BE BACK!!"

Recent reports say that another pirate station on 96.9 FM has been audible in Chula Vista.

In a "Notice of Unlicensed Operation" issued last week, the FCC said its agents found illegal radio transmissions coming from a residence at 1278 Cuyamaca Avenue, Chula Vista. The FCC cited Jose Partida as the landlord and gave him ten days to respond to the notice.

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